Three contenders for Mercedes seat named with Carlos Sainz ‘fighting to show he’s a commodity’

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz on the podium in Bahrain.

Carlos Sainz earned a podium place for his drive in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

While the likes of Fernando Alonso and Andrea Kimi Antonelli are contenders, 1996 World Champion Damon Hill believes Carlos Sainz could be exactly what Mercedes need in a Lewis Hamilton replacement as he fights “to show that he’s a commodity”.

Mercedes are on the lookout for a new driver to partner George Russell from 2025, with Hamilton having confirmed his shock move to Ferrari from next season, at the expense of Sainz.

Carlos Sainz can ‘deliver at sharp end’ as Mercedes need

The Spaniard already is being linked with a host of teams, such as Mercedes, Red Bull and Sauber, who will become Audi from 2026, though Hill believes Sainz could be exactly the type of driver Mercedes are looking for as they attempt to claw their way back into the victory and title conversation.

Mercedes’ star 17-year-old Formula 2 prospect Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been talked about as a potential brave and exciting option, but Hill continues to come back to Sainz as the proven option, having delivered a “very important” strong performance at the F1 2024 Bahrain season-opener, finishing P3 after twice passing Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc.

“He’s fighting to show that he’s a commodity, he’s a guy you’d like to have in your car at the sharp end,” Hill continued on the F1 Nation podcast.

“And there’s a couple of places he wants to go. I would say… I don’t know if Red Bull is on his list, he’s obviously qualified as a Red Bull driver originally, but if Checo [Perez] leaves, there may be a seat there.

“But would it be the right thing to do? Would Mercedes be the right place to go? I mean, there is the problem with you’re swapping drivers from Ferrari to Mercedes and Mercedes would have to explain why they were taking a driver that has been thrown out in favour of the driver they already had at Mercedes.

“But I think what they’re after at Mercedes is someone who can deliver at the sharp end in Formula 1 and he can do that. And also, he’s driven for a very big team in Ferrari, so he understands all those pressures.

“If you promote a young driver, they’ve got to learn about the team, they’ve got to learn about Formula 1. You can see in Oscar and his enormous talent, he’s still learning. And I think that Carlos would be a strong candidate for that place at Mercedes.” recommends

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Another driver who has been linked with the upcoming Mercedes vacancy is two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, who is into the final season of his current Aston Martin deal.

However, the 42-year-old hinted at the Bahrain Grand Prix that he is not certain to continue racing into 2025, claiming he will decide on that “in a few weeks or a few races”.

Therefore, Hill questions whether Mercedes would really want a driver who is not assuring he will still be an F1 driver in the long-term.

“You put Fernando in, you don’t know how many more years he’s going to go on for,” Hill stated. “He even started off the [Bahrain] weekend saying, ‘I don’t know, I’ll make my mind up in the next three weeks’. He mentioned weeks or three races or something.

“Pretty soon he’s going to decide whether he’s going to carry on or not, because he didn’t exactly say he’s getting tired, but he sort of alluded to the fact that this takes a lot out of you every year going racing.”

Mercedes will be hoping for a stronger showing at Round 2 in Saudi Arabia, with battery issues in Bahrain having contributed heavily to a P5 finish for Russell and P7 for Hamilton.

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